Feedback on Kenya/Tanzania/Seychelles June 2005

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Apr 10th, 2005, 10:58 PM
  #1
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Feedback on Kenya/Tanzania/Seychelles June 2005

Hi everyone -

First thanks for all the good posts and trip reports that I've used in planning. A word about us before I give my proposed itinerary - we're late 20s, on our honeymoon, traveling for a month total so we need to stretch our dollars. Due to back issues, we don’t want rough camping and need cots, and can’t spend more than 5 hours driving in rough vehicle. Otherwise we’re really active and walk/swim/etc. tons. I think we’d prefer to stay in decent places on Safari and then save in town. We have traveled lots independently in Latin America and South Pacific. We've booked our "passport to Africa fare" for three weeks in Kenya/Tanz - with a one-way from NBO-DAR, and roundtrip to Seychelles (one week). What I think is going to work best for us is booking "mini-safaris" - for a few days for each lodge, then on our own the rest of time. Timing is approx. June 15- July 15 - with Seychelles the last week. If we can get away with it, our Africa (non-Seychelles) time not including international airfare budget would be $5K for both.

Our goals are 1) animal viewing - for this I think our "must-haves" are Ngorongoro and Masai Mara 2) staying in an off the beaten path unique park - right now we're trying to swing Selous if we can 3) When we're not on safari staying "on the cheap" - eating from grocery stores, etc.

Here's what I was thinking!

Day 1 - arrive in NBO, transfer flight to DAR in a.m., stay overnight in DAR (Royal Palm $170 internet rate)

Day 2 – take flight to Selous (we were going to take Train to save money, but it gets in too late this day (Friday) to see anything so I’m thinking extra $ for flight could be worth it) – stay in Sable Mountain Lodge

Day 3 – 4 Sable Mountain in Honeymoon Suite

Day 5 – Fly Selous to Arusha?? this would be a Monday and is the tricky part – Zanair isn’t flying this month to Selous and Coastal Air would take all day after stopping in Ruaha. (leave 9:00 – arrive Arusha at 4:00). My other thought is fly to Zanzibar, stay overnight and leave for Arusha next day – cost would be same and it would be fun to see Stonestown. I don’t know if flight times would work to see much without adding another day in Zanzibar. Worth it??

Day 6 – Stay in Gibbs Farm / Ngorongoro Coffee House – do walks around grounds, etc.

Day 7 – Ngorongoro – stay at Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge

Day 8 - Ngorongoro – stay at Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge

Day 9 – Drive to Moshi – have driver leave us at cheap hotel (any suggestions on good places less than $30/night?)

Day 10 – 12 – Moshi on the cheap, doing day hikes, cultural visits, play it by ear

Day 13 – tourist bus to Nairobi

Day 14 – fly to Masai Mara, stay at Dream Camp (flight/accom/drives special)

Day 15 – Dream Camp in Mara

Day 16 – Dream Camp in Mara

Day 17 – Fly back to Nairobi in a.m., stay convenient to Airport

Day 18 – Fly to Seychelles, stay hopefully in La Digue most of time

Stay a week in Seychelles, then fly home. Any ideas on cheap accommodations or ways to save money in Seychelles (where to buy food, markets etc. is great). A friend told us about these islands and we figured it’d be a once in a lifetime place – we like casual atmosphere but didn’t want to be harassed by street venders while soaking up the sun, and can’t afford a really nice resort (Memba)

Main Question: We love the idea of Selous – for out of way factor and the idea of doing a hippo boat Safari. I’m wondering whether we could save money by ditching whole Southern Tanzania part including Dar and instead have our exclusive time be at Meru (the post on Elsa’s Kopje sounded fantastic) or Lewa (my fiance loves Rhinos), or another great place that is not as packed?

Thanks for your feedback!
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Apr 11th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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Given your budget, I think your idea of doing mini safaris is a good and will allow you to splurge at one or two places. I don't think it would be possible for you to go on a continuous safari for 16-17 nights for $2500pp unless you were willing to do some camping.

First of all, I have a question for you. Where are you flying from and what's the 'passport to Africa fare' that you mention? I haven't heard of this. Is this through Kenya Airways and what's the total cost for all of your flights?

The next question, is this trip June 15-July 15 of 2005 or 2006? Lots of people plan way ahead for Africa, especially for a honeymoon, so I wasn't quite sure. Have you already received quotes? If so, could you post the costs for each of your mini safaris for comparison with other options?

Days 2-4 - the only downside I can see to staying at Sable Mountain Lodge is that it's not on or close to the river. You may want to look into what it would cost to stay at Selous Safari Camp or Sand Rivers, both situated along the river. I know for November the cost for Selous Safari camp is only slightly more than Sable Mountain and Sand Rivers is about $100pp additional per night. I'm basing this on the $265pp per night posted rate for a honeymoon tent at Sable Mountain. November is low/shoulder season in the Selous though, so there might be more of a price difference between these two camps and Sable Mountain during the time of year you're traveling. In any case, I would still get some comparison quotes.

There are good reviews of all 3 places on the Africa Travel Resource site:

http://www.africatravelresource.com/...lous/03/01.htm

I wouldn't necessarily go by their rates as I think their rates are on the high side, but I like their site for reviews. Their pictures of Selous Safari Camp are from before the most recent renovation. To see what it looks like now, go to http://www.selous.com/sscoverview.htm

For Sand Rivers, http://www.digitalfrontier.com/sandrivers/index.html

Day 5 - Can you get a direct flight to Zanzibar? Could you post the flight times, Selous-Zanzibar and then Zanzibar-Arusha/Kilimanjaro the following day?

Day 6-8 - I think these are good choices. You save some money by staying at the Wildlife Lodge. There are only 3 other choices that I know of on the crater rim, two of which are big lodges as well but cost more, and then there's the Crater Lodge which would take up 2/5 of your budget.

Don't know much about Moshi.

Day 14-16 - What's the cost for Dream Camp including flights? I couldn't find much information about it. If you know of a site with some pictures of this camp, I'd be interested to see what it looks like.

Another camp you could consider, especially if you can work your dates to stay there before July 1 (when rates go up) is Kicheche Mara Camp, www.kicheche.com - they have a 3 night flying package rate through June 30 for $720pp plus $90pp reserve fees including all activities (game drives, safari walks). I plan to stay there in November. I've been in contact with someone who stayed there last December and she highly recommended it. They also have a honeymoon tent which I believe is $70 additional per night.

Kicheche is located in the northwestern area about an hour outside of the reserve proper. Should be less crowded up here and I believe since late June/early July is too early to see the migration in the Mara, it doesn't matter what area you stay in - somebody please correct me if I'm wrong on the timing.

As far as your other options, I would check if Elsa's is open this time of year. I couldn't find a posted rate for May 16-July 14 which leads me to believe that they might be closed during this time:

http://www.chelipeacock.com/camps/elsa_rates.htm

Lewa Conservancy also closes seasonally but I think they've re-opened by late June/early July. Here you might consider Il Ngwesi lodge:

http://www.lewa.org/ilngwesi_lodge.php

For more pics and some low res video clips: http://www.africanmeccasafaris.com/k...s/ilngwesi.asp

I think it would be very romantic to get one of the cottages here where you can sleep under the stars! There are daily scheduled flights to Lewa and the fare is around $220pp roundtrip.

Another less visited park in Kenya that you could consider is Tsavo. We stayed at Finch Hattons Camp - www.finchhattons.com - in Tsavo West in February and absolutely fell in love with the place. The setting is beautiful and the park is not heavily visited at all, especially toward the western side where Finch Hattons is located. We hardly saw any other vehicles on our game drives. And even though this camp has 30+ tents, I got the feeling that it was rarely full.

The game numbers in Tsavo West may not be as dense as elsewhere but the landscape is varied and dramatic. If you end up deciding to skip southern Tanzania, here's your chance to see hippos right from your tent (and be awoken by them in the morning). I can't tell you how much we enjoyed just lying on the chaise lounges on our deck and watching the hippos. Lots of other critters wander into the camp area as well.

Here's my trip report from February if you want to read more details:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34566072

At the end of the report, you'll find a link to our photo album with pics from Tsavo West and Finch Hattons.

The only thing that I'm not sure about is the flight cost. We traveled by road and it took 6.5 hours (the last hour being game viewing enroute inside the park). It seems that most other guests flew. On their website, it states that there are flights directly to the Finch Hattons airstrip from Nairobi on Wed/Fri/Sun.

Other than the air cost which I don't know, the prices for accomodation, game drives, and everything else here are extremely reasonable given the overall quality of the camp. We took our game drives in our own vehicle with our own guide, but I remember the posted game drive rates for fly-in guests were $30pp for a shared game drive and $90 total for a private game drive for two people. Their prices for drinks and laundry were also less than at other places where we stayed. The service and food were excellent.

Lots for you to consider. Have fun planning!
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Apr 11th, 2005, 12:06 PM
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Thanks Sandi for all your feedback!

We’re going June 15 – July 15th 2005 – only two months away. Yeah!

Airfare: The “Passport to Africa” fare is through Kenya Airways (and their affiliates – Northwest, KLM, etc.) You need to book it at the time you get international travel, and you get discounts on inter-Africa flights but you need to purchase at least 3 one-ways. So I think we ended up paying $150 for NBO-DAR, and $350 R/T for NBO-Seychelles, but you could fly further – like to South Africa, etc. I think it’s part of the NWA/KLM round the world travel fares. It’s funny – I tried to find the link on KLM and it no longer worked. I would call the airline directly and ask for the round the world desk (Kenya Airways can tell you prices too).
Here’s a site that breaks down flight prices: http://www.hemastravels.com/airline_...ons_Kenya1.htm

Selous Accomodations: After reading other posts, I realized Sable wasn’t on the River, which seems like a big minus and may be worth the extra money to stay on the River. I thought we could save by taking the Tazara train one way (which is supposed to be great views on the way out – on Mondays I think it travels in the afternoons) but since we’d likely be flying both ways it doesn’t make a difference which camp we stay it. I’ll check out the two you suggested. Sand Rivers looks amazing.

Flights Selous / Zanzibar / Arusha: I checked into flight times and they aren’t much better – Coastal Aviation is really the only option I think (at least into Sable, and ZanAir told me they don’t fly that month to Selous because of rain) – Flights Selous – Zanzibar arrive Zan at 17:00 approximately – and the flight to Arusha leaves at 9:30 the next morning. Wouldn’t really give time to explore unless we stayed in Zanzibar two nights and one full day. Do you think it’s worth it?

Ngorongoro Mini Safari – I got two quotes (one from Roy’s, another from Travel Beyond) that were comparable – for staying two nights Ngorogoro and two nights Tarangire – one added a night in Arusha and lodging options were different – for approximately $1000/person. I’m thinking we can get 3 nights (2 in Ngorongoro) for $500/person but I need to check rates for this new plan (leaving out Tarangire).

Il Ngwesi – This place looks fantastic. I just wrote Let’s go Safaris to check availability and prices. I really like the fact that it’s community run and supports the local area.

Dream Camp: http://www.eco-resorts.com/DreamCamp.php
This camp got great reviews in the Lonely Planet. I emailed the name on the website and got a quote for a fly-in 3 days, 2 nights – 4 long game drives, 2 short ones, for $540 person.

Kicheche: I really like this camp’s description on website – and it’s comparable budget-wise to the Dream Camp. Thanks for the recommendation! What do you think about it being outside the camp – that’s the only difference I can see with the Dream Camp – and I think Dream Camp is closer to other lodges in the immediate area.

Tsavo – Thanks for this recommendation. Waking up to hippos is the experience we want! What do you / others think about timing for Tsavo? This site
http://www.africa-adventure.com/dsp_besttime.html seems to say Tsavo is “poor” in June. But again, this could be part of the “cool camps” adventure while we focus on game viewing in the Mara and Ngorongoro. I just read your trip report – awesome.

I am having lots of fun planning!
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Apr 11th, 2005, 12:41 PM
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sandi
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bigredoso -

Sorry, but it was Patty who responded to your post. I can't take credit for a job well done on her part. Believe Patty gave you more then enough things to consider and directions to pursue.

But I have a question - from where are you traveling? This is more for the Seychelles portion of your trip. We too did the Seychelles for a week after safari in Kenya and Tanzania - loved every day in this paradise. I have no idea what budget you have allowed for travel here, but it can be on the expensive side... so check carefully. And I'm not referring to the 5* resorts/islands that have opened in the past few years.

I would also suggest that you not spend all your time on one island, especially La Digue. Though quite pretty with amazing beaches, it's small and after 2-days max, you'll be maxed out. You can actually do a full day trip to La Digue from Praslin Island.

When we arrived from Nairobi, we went directly to our connecting flight to Praslin Island for 4 (or 5-days). While on Praslin we were able to schedule day trips for each day here, though did save 1-day just for Praslin. One of these days was spent on La Digue, being picked up right after an early breakfast, to the ferry pier and off we went for the day. Ferry is the only way to get to La Digue and there are no vehicles except for emergency ones on the island - by foot or bicycle.

After our time on Praslin we flew back to Mahe for our last few days. And here too there were day-trips to be booked if you wish.

Unless you're looking for complete pampering and doing nothing but signalling for another drink - on islands such as Fregate or North at $1500/nt/person... break-up your time here to really enjoy.

Just some suggestions to keep in mind. Do keep us posted as your plans continue.
 
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Apr 11th, 2005, 12:44 PM
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sandi
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... and if you're planning to travel this coming June - that's only 6-weeks from now... Get moving!
 
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Apr 11th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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Hi,
Dreamcamp is called Basecamp since at least two years ago. I was there in June 2003 and I’m definitely going back some day.
Here’s their web site:
http://www.basecampexplorer.com/masaimara/en
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Apr 11th, 2005, 01:39 PM
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Now I saw a question about Tsavo.

I spent 6 days in Tsavo East in late June last year and I saw thousands of elephants, huge herds of buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, grant’s, hartebeests, impalas, waterbucks, kudus hiding in the bushes, shy oryx and many other animals. I didn’t see as many cats (other than lions) as in the Mara – I saw one cheetah and at a distance -, but there were lions every day.

I stayed at Tarhi Camp http://www.safari-wangu.de/tarhicampe.html (the web page doesn’t do it justice) where elephants and buffaloes walked around among the tents.
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Apr 11th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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Nyamera,
Thanks for the link to Base Camp. No wonder I couldn't find much about it. The setting looks lovely.

One thing that I noticed they offer is night game drives, something that I don't think Kicheche does.

bigredoso,
Thanks for the info on the passport to Africa fare. That's something that I hadn't come across before. I learn something new here everyday - two things today! Those are excellent add-on fares. I only wish we could take advantage of them but we'll either be using ff miles or flying BA.

I bet you could find something close to $500 for your Ngorongoro safari since it's still low season. A few other Arusha based operators frequently mentioned here are - Tanzania Serengeti Adventures, Good Earth Tours, and Bushbuck Safaris (this last one was recommended by several posters on the flyertalk message board).

I don't know about Tsavo West in June, but one of the staff mentioned that July was a good time to be there.

Re: Selous transportation, I'm having the same issues you are. At first I wanted to take the train from Dar and stay at Sable Mountain, then I found that the TAZARA train only gets into Kisaki at a decent hour on Mondays and the Safari Express train I was told wasn't running reliably. Then I started looking at flights and am finding that the flight schedule isn't ideal for connecting from Nairobi. We'd either have to fly into Dar the day before or find something to do there for 6 hours between flights.

I don't know much about Zanzibar. Hopefully someone else can advise if it's worth stopping for 2 nights.

One more thought - once you've nailed down where you want to go, you may want to choose one tour operator (perhaps picking the one who has been most responsive and helpful in addition to offering good prices) and book everything through them. Most tour operators will require that you send them a deposit either by wire transfer or credit card (unless you can convince them to accept payment on arrival). In case of credit cards, there's often a surcharge. So even if one tour operator is slightly less than another on one of the mini safaris, your savings may disappear by the time you figure in wire transfer fees or credit card surcharges to multiple tour operators.

Do keep us advised of your plans!
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Apr 11th, 2005, 11:30 PM
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Patty, Sandy, Nyamera -

Thanks for all the posts. I got a quick price quote from Lets Go Safari for Il Negesi (local community supported sounds great) for $834 3 nights including flights - I'm checking if this is also full board as the online form was cryptic. I'm also checking into all the other options and will repost with my next set of info.

Seychelles - Sandi we haven't made any plans yet except for flying into Mahe. I think relaxing will be key - after a busy wedding week and Safari but you're right we could get bored. I'm really hoping to do it as cheap as possible (eat at grocery stores some days). Any ideas on guidebooks or sites that would be good? Don't see as many posts here.

Thanks!
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Apr 12th, 2005, 04:01 AM
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Hi,

I just returned from 2 weeks in the Seychelles last month.
I think Sandi is right - you may get bored there with a week of unplanned time.

La Digue is really small. It can be done in one or 2 days.

We did notice several properties of varying condition for rent, and there is a large grocery (Gregoire's), so I guess it can be done less expensively that a resort.

You might want to post on the Lonely Planet /Thorn Tree/ Africa forum, and ask about accomodation there.

Check out www.seychelles.com. Al least listen to the bird calls on the site, thats just how it sounds on the islands.

Also, I spent some time at Sand Rivers in Selous in August, if you have specific questions on that. You will see many, many hippos there.

Happy planning!
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Apr 12th, 2005, 04:20 AM
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bigredoso -

Below two sites for Seychelles information:

http://www.justseychelles.com/

http://www.seychelles.com/

these should give you a start - islands, hotels, prices, booking, etc.

And here's an outfitter that does both East Africa and Seychelles itineraries:

http://www.surf-safari.com/

I have no experience with this last link, but take a look. The other two have good information.

There are but a few guidebooks on the Seychelles, but I believe the sites above will provide more specific information. Hope this provides what you need.

Depending on from where you are traveling - this is a long trip. We flew from the States with SEZ our last stop, accordingly, our return flight had us on the move from early morning the last day early... spending a full day on Mahe, airport transfer, flight via NBO, onto AMS, then to NYC. Total hours until I reached my front door - more than 40-hours... and I still had a dinner engagement when I arrived home - a very very long 2+ days.

Thankfully on our outbound flight we stopped in AMS for 2-days before heading to Kenya/Tanzania, then the Seychelles. But the Return trip was a kicker.

If you're only traveling from Europe you save some hours, but it's still a good 10-12 hrs. to the Continent from SEZ.
 
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Apr 13th, 2005, 08:10 AM
  #12
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First Sandi I read on another post about your loss. I am so sorry and I hope that your upcoming trip fills you with his spirit.

Seychelles flights - we're taking the same long haul that you are Sandi (flying in and out of Boston). Yikes! Going to be a long couple of days.

Ngorongoro - How much time do all of you think is ideal for lots of good animal viewing? I was thinking one night before at Ngorongoro Coffee House - then next day full day in Crater - stay at Wildlife Lodge - another full day in crater - stay at Wildlife - 1/2 day in crater and return to Arusha. Maybe 1 1/2 days in Crater would be enough?
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May 9th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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So we're getting closer to finalizing our itinerary (phew!) especially since it and the wedding are a month away. I booked an online rate for $100/night at the Stanley hotel - could be a last minute thing only that I got on orbitz.com. Seemed like a really good deal.

I think we're going to rent a car for our first few nights and relax after our long flight ideally in the Lakes region. 4WD cars are pricing about $250 for 3 days, and since we won't be focusing on major game drives these days I think we'll be fine on our own. We want to stay within 1 1/2 hours of Nairobi the first night or two to relax. I found this place for $140/double full board:

http://www.kongoni.com/kia_about.html

Anyone been there? It's called Kiangazi House near Lake Naivasha. Patty I also saw some of your places in the Lakes region - I'm going to check those out as well.

Will post final itinerary once we have it!
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May 10th, 2005, 11:54 AM
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bigredoso,
I think that's a great idea. An inexpensive way to relax and get out of Nairobi for a few days.

Right now, our plan is to stay at Malu which is about 10km north of Lake Naivasha. We also looked into Malewa River Lodge on Kigio Conservancy (private conservancy for Rothschild giraffe) which I believe is another 10km further north and Crater Lake Camp which is set on the shores of Crater Lake (small lake adjacent to Naivasha). There are so many accomodation choices in and around the Lake Naivasha area, it's hard to decide.

I recently read about a possible scam on the Lonely Planet board with people telling you there's something wrong with your rental car, so do be alert and aware.

http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/me...entid=0&from=1
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May 10th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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bigredoso - I just came across your earlier post (4/13) with your kind words. For certain he'll be there with me. Thanks so much.
 
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May 10th, 2005, 09:04 PM
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Sandi - you must be leaving soon. Have a great trip!

Patty - thanks for the heads up on the scam. I hope something really doesn't happen - we'll never believe it.

Have either of you (or anyone else!) stayed at Lake Naivashe Lodge? It's cheap enough - $80 for double full board - and seems fine enough for two nights(our next stop is a splurge at Elsa's).
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Aug 8th, 2005, 11:29 AM
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bigredoso,
If you're back, I'd love to hear a trip report or just some quick impressions.
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Aug 8th, 2005, 12:08 PM
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Patty,

FYI, last week I finally got the official website for Crater Lake Camp, look at my site at
http://www.safari-portal.de/Lodging....eGameSanctuary

There's also a Kenyan map publisher, Bundu Maps (www.kenyatravelmaps.com), who has published a nice map of the Lake Naivasha region showing the location of all the camps and lodges.
And this map is also available online! Look at
http://www.kenyatravelmaps.com/naivasha/map.htm

Save it as long as you can.

Or, better: Buy it and support this local publisher.

Mitch
 
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Aug 8th, 2005, 01:05 PM
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Thanks, Mitch!
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